By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari
Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Creator of this Universe has seven Holy Immortals known as Ameshaspentas or Archangels. These Divine Celestial Beings are His highest helpers protecting and nurturing His creations, revealed Lord Zarathushtra.
These 7 Holy Immortals have the first 7 names of the days of the month. They have all the attributes of Ahura Mazda, each in charge of a particular domain with spiritual divinity. Each one of them protects one part of the Creations of Nature – like Man, Cattle, Fire, Sky (sun, moon and stars), Earth Waters and Plants. Being His helpers and co-workers, they are also called the 'sons' and 'daughters' of Ahura Mazda. They are not simply 'beings' but are also 'abstract ideas'. They represent a part of God's divine nature; a part of the Creator himself which man should try to follow and uphold to the best of his ability. Ahura Mazda created the spiritual and material world. These divine beings the Ameshaspentas also known as the Archangels along with Yazads, Fravashis and Sarosh Yazad are his helpers and co-workers in running the Universe so that the good power Spenta Mainyu can fight and defeat the evil power Angre Mainyu to drive away evil forces from this world.
The first of the seven Ameshaspentas is Ahura Mazda himself, the Wise Lord, the Supreme God and the Father of other Ameshaspentas. His special domain is the welfare of humans. He is the spark that resides within each one of us, helping us, protecting us and constantly guiding us to act in life with Wisdom, ultimately leading us to the path of Asha or Righteousness.
The second Archangel Bahman Ameshaspenta protects birds, cattle, sheep and the sacred Ox 'Varasiyaji'. In sum, BahmanAmeshaspenta looks after the welfare of the animal kingdom. In the spiritual domain, Bahman represents the 'Good Mind' known as 'Vohu Mano'. Only a good and pure mind can lead to good and healing thoughts and good words can translate into good deeds, the Zoroastrian pillars of Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta. With a good and noble mind, thoughts of peace, harmony and divine wisdom can prevail over us. May the seeds of Vohu Mano be planted in our minds and hearts to make us lead a life of goodness and love, not only for human beings but for the entire creation. Since Bahman Ameshaspenta protects and nurtures the animal kingdom, most devout Zarathushtis refrain from eating flesh foods on Bahman Roj and the entire Bahman month. Symbiosis is a close association of man with the animal and plant kingdom. We have to live in close harmony with them, protecting and nurturing them. A truly devout Zarathushti will never ever touch or relish animal food but most Parsis do!
Ardibehest Ameshaspand is the Archangel who looks after the Fires. He is the Lord of Light and the energies created by heat and fire. Ardibehest also represents the solar system, the Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets. In our religion Fire is the link or medium to reach Ahura Mazda and is often referred to as the son of Ahura Mazda. It is present in all our rituals from which we draw spiritual energy. Fire is seen as motion and energy and is present in all atoms. Fire is the brilliance of Ahura Mazda. It is 'life giving' and 'light giving'. It acts as a Ratheshtrar ie. A warrior against evil and destroys impurities. It is Omnipresent permeating all creations and a store house of Divine energy. Fire always moves upwards pointing to the fact that spiritually we have to rise higher and higher in life. In the olden days, a special place was reserved in the kitchen of a Parsi household to keep the fire burning. This practice is now discontinued with the advent of modern designer kitchens. Fires in Agiaries and Atash Behrams are purified and consecrated from the ordinary to sublime and then enthroned. This consecrated Fire known as 'Atash Padshah' is united to God's divine energies. When we pray to Atash Padshah with offerings of sandlewood sticks, it blesses us granting boons while uplifting our spirits. Its special domain is Asha Vahishta or the highest truth. May every Zarathushti's soul raise with the radiant garb of Asha Vashishta to fulfill God's will and the purpose of life.
Archangel Shehrevar reigns over precious metals, minerals, precious stones and gems as also spiritual wealth. Shehrevar is compassionate and a protector of the down trodden, helping the needy and the deserving. Shehrevar's special domain is Khshathra Vairya which means supreme authority, power and strength as enjoyed by leaders, Kings and Monarchs. Zarathushtra proclaims Ahura Mazda's message that each one should 'listen with his ears, think with his illuminated mind and then choose between the two paths' – the Good Path full of bounteous and beneficent spirit or the evil path or evil spirit leading to destruction. Shehrevar gives our souls this strength to choose wisely so that we can frustrate the designs of the evil ones and its followers. It encourages man to have the power to be firm for all good causes. Strength and power being the important virtues of all leading men, Shehrevar showers his blessings in abundance on the deserving ones. He alone can make a king out of an ordinary man. He alone can shower riches and spiritual wealth and he alone can take away.
Aspandad Ameshaspenta or Spendarmad Archangel looks after Mother Earth by nurturing and nourishing the soil, thus increasing Mother Earth's bounty and abundance bestowed upon us aplently. His special domain is spenta Armaiti or piety, devotion and gratefulness to Mother Earth who nurtures all her creatures and creations on earth. It is the duty of every Zarathushti to be conscious and use Mother Earth's bountiful resources in limitation without wastage.
Zoroastrian Religion is the world's first eco-friendly religion. Misusing or polluting a creation means a direct affront to that divine being. Thus ecology and conservation are closely linked with theology and divinity in our religion. Protection, preservation and non-wastage is an integral part of leading a Zoroastrian life.
Khordad Ameshaspenta represents the waters, showering us from above as 'rains' and replenishing our oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds and wells. In every Agiary and Atash Behram there is a well which is worshipped by prayers, the fragrance of flowers and by lighting a 'divo'. In the bygone era, every Parsi household had a well within its premises. 70% of Mother Earth is represented by water or Avan. It becomes the cardinal duty of every devout Zarathushti not to pollute or dilute its waters. Khordad's special domain is Hurvatat or Perfection. Through perfection our souls can rise to a higher state of consciousness and achievement. Our souls survive death and can achieve perfection by leading a life of moderation, charity, helpfulness, devotion, duty, self control and innate goodness.
Amardad Ameshaspenta looks after the trees, plants, seeds, vegetation, fruits, flowers and crops so that we enjoy good health by ingesting food from the plant kingdom. Have you ever pondered over the fact that nature has given every colour, hue, shade, grade and different shapes to its vast vegetation! Amardad's special domain is Ameratat or Immortality or eternal existence like the plant kingdom. As we all know that our souls are immortal and therefore we have to be mindful of our conduct so that our souls can achieve a better life in the next birth. Hurvatat and Ameratat are referred to as divine pair in the Gathas of Lord Zarathushtra.
Zoroastrianism is the oldest and the first monotheistic religion and Zarathushtra, the first Prophet of this world brought the divine message and Revelation of Ahura Mazda which is valid today as it was valid more than 8,000 years back. It is up to us to follow the tenets of this beautiful eco-friendly religion as much as we can. Happy New Year and a big God bless and protection to our community from Dadar Ahura Mazda, Ameshaspentas, Fravashis and Sarosh Yazad.